Thriller Thursday: The Unusual Suspect

Due to this post from Roni Loren (thank you for the warning, Roni) I’ve decided to remove most photos from Thriller Thursday. I hope you’re still able to enjoy them!

On May 12, 2007, the peaceful quiet of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania was shattered. Sound asleep in her two-story home on Peach Lane, twenty-year-old Bucknell University student Maggie Haines woke up to the sounds of a frantic struggle in her home. She got out of bed in search of the commotion, going first to her parents bedroom wehre she found her father lying on the bed. Her mother sat on the edge, badly injured.

“Go get help,” Lisa Haines managed to say. Maggie raced out of the house so quickly she didn’t see her brother’s mutilated body lying in the hallway. Help would be too late. Thomas Haines, 50, Lisa Haines, 47, and Kevin Haines, 16, died of multiple stab wounds. Only Maggie was spared without a scratch on her.

Seventy miles from Philadelphia, Lancaster County is known as Dutch Country, complete with beautiful rolling hills and dotted with Amish carriages, a place where people trusted one another and often didn’t lock their doors. The Haines were no exception. The back door stood open and police found no signs of forced entry. Nothing was stolen from the home. Maggie saw no one in her mad dash through the house and across the yard to the neighbors.

Weeks of investigation proved what everyone already knew: the Haines were happy family who loved one another and had no dark secrets. Suspects popped up here and there, but all were false leads or disturbed people looking for attention.

While Maggie was originally a suspect because of her strange calm during questioning and lack of injury, she was quickly ruled out. The killer, wearing a size 10 hush puppy shoe, had left blood prints on the carpet. When Maggie went to the neighbors, she didn’t have a drop of blood on her.

The community was terrified. The county coroner suggested a psychotic killer may be on the loose. The FBI was called in, and while the Haines murders were similar to a string of other home invasions across the country, no evidence was found to tie them together.

Sixteen-year-old Kevin Haines sustained the worst injuries by far. In addition to defensive wounds, his neck and upper body were eviscerated. The FBI questioned Kevin’s friends and classmates, but found nothing about the shy sophomore that would lead to murder. He had a small circle of friends and was among the top academics in his class. Close with his family and well respected, there were no skeletons in Kevin’s closet.

For more than a month, Lancaster residents were baffled and broken. They believed a transient killer had entered their town and chosen his victims at random. And he could come back at any time. Befuddled, the policed urged residents to follow procedures such as “locking their doors at night, turning on lights, knowing where their children are during the day, meeting with neighbors to be sure that they know each other’s daily routines.”

Just when it appeared the killer had gotten away with it, the unthinkable happened. After being admitted to a mental hospital following a suicide attempt, sixteen-year-old Alec Kreider, described by many as a close friend of Kevin’s, confessed to the murder. His parents didn’t believe him at first. How could their highly intelligent, quiet son do something so horrendous? But when his father saw the evidence, including the bloody knife Alec had hidden in his closet, he contacted police. They’d already received two tips about Kreider, one going so far as saying the teen bragged about getting away with murder. The forensic evidence supported Kreiders story: the blood on the knife matched Kevin Haines’s and the size ten hush puppies Alec wore to the mental facility still had traces of Kevin’s blood in the soles.

A police affidavit stated that Kreider went to the home intending to smother Kevin, but instead stabbed him in the neck and chest, and then went on to kill Thomas and Lisa. Kreider was charged as an adult with three counts of murder. Police had interviewed Alec but dismissed him early on. After the murders, he continued to go to school and lead a normal life.

District Attorney Craig Stedman says that while many students found Kreider “dark,” “cynical” or “arrogant,” and at least one harbored the suspicion that he might someday “do a Columbine,” no one saw any clear sign that he was on the verge of a murderous frenzy. “But if someone would have had access to all of the surveys together,” says Stedman, “what he ended up doing would not have been a great surprise.”  SOURCE

Perhaps the most compelling–and disturbing–look into Kreider’s mind is the journal he began keeping. Described by PEOPLE as “grandiose, pathetic and chilling,” Kreider made a chilling entry on the night of the murders, stating he had been born that very night. He also states his “want/need to kill people had increased.” There is no remorse anywhere in the writing.

“I don’t know if God wanted me to hate so much but things have been very hateful lately.” –Alec Kreider journal entry.

One passage in the journal is particularly telling. Kreider wrote of hating happy people. “They make me sick.” His own parents were divorced, and the Haines home, a place he visited frequently, was brimming with happiness thanks to a close-kit family.

Forensic psychology professor Dr. Louis B. Schlesinger believes Kreider may have been jealous. “He may have been jealous because they were happy and normal,” says Schlesinger. “Alec may have become very, very angry at that. There’s a reason he did this; nobody does anything for nothing.” SOURCE

But to this day, Alec Kreider has never given a reason. Nor has his shown an ounce of remorse for his friend and the family he destroyed. He was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences and has no possibility of parole.

And the reason Maggie’s life was spared? Kreider didn’t realize she was home from college.

What do you think? Are some people just inherently evil? Were the warning signs all there? Should Kreider have received the death penalty?

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About Stacy Green

Stacy Green is the best selling author of psychological thrillers and mystery with a dash of romance. As a stay at home mom, she's blessed with making writing a full-time career. She lives in Iowa with her supportive husband, daughter, and their three fur-babies.
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37 Responses to Thriller Thursday: The Unusual Suspect

  1. I don’t know if I believe in the death penalty; not just because it’s killing someone, but mainly because it would force someone – the executioner – to be a killer. And I’m not sure punishing killing with killing makes any sense. As much as the vengeful part of me would like to believe that. But I do believe some people forfeit their right to live among the rest of us with their actions. And they need to be locked away.
    This guy is obviously mentally sick. It’s terrible and frightening just how far off a human being can become.
    Stacy, you do such a good job of telling these. Your Thriller Thursdays are always fascinating.

    • Stacy Green says:

      Hmm. I never looked at the death penalty that way. That does put it in a whole new light. I’m of two minds on the death penalty. While I’m mostly against it, there are some people that just deserve it, right or wrong. That’s terrible, I know.

      Yes, it is. Reminds me of the terrible school shootings across the country. I’m sure it’s the same type of mentality.

      Well, thank you very much! I really appreciate that:)

  2. Wow. Can you imagine the guilt that girl carries/carried? Guilty because she survived, guilty because she was glad she did.

    I tend to believe that there’s always warning signs, people just miss them. Because they aren’t looking, or because they’re turning blind eyes. Who wants to believe their child could be a monster? No one really wants to believe someone could be capable of those things.

    Fascinating post. As always!!

    • Stacy Green says:

      I know it. She returned to college, but had a hard time, I think. Said there were days she just cried all day. It’s bad enough losing one family member but all three? Can’t imagine.

      I do, too. We just don’t think someone close to us could be so cruel. And most of us are so focused on our own lives we don’t pay attention like we should.

      Thanks so much!

  3. Jane says:

    I do believe in the death penalty personally. I also see the person preparing the lethal dose as just doing a job. Almost as if a nurse giving an antibiotic shot. I think this is a sad situation and truly feel for Maggie. He will probably end up spending the rest of his life in prison, and the loss of the potential he may have had is sad as well.

    • Stacy Green says:

      Interesting way to look at it. The death penalty issue is a fascinating debate. I tend to agree with you in most cases. Yes, very sad all around. A lot of potential destroyed that night.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Terrific post, Stacy. I think that one of the complexities of good versus evil is the fact that people committing “evil” acts don’t believe they’re evil at all. Psychopaths, unfortunately, can’t feel remorse. Those with violent tendencies are forces to hopefully never be reckoned with.

    • Stacy Green says:

      Thank you. I posted about psychopaths a few Thursdays back, and you’re right, they can’t feel remorse and don’t see anything they do as good or bad. It just is, which is something I can’t fathom.

      Glad you enjoyed!

  5. So disturbing. Just think if he had not turned himself in, he would have gotten away with murder. And then go on to repeat the act later when his impulses take over again. I believe in people being taken over by demons. Great story.

    • Stacy Green says:

      Absolutely. And I wonder why he turned himself in? He did talk about committing suicide, so maybe there was some level of remorse. And yet he showed none of his arrest. Glad you enjoyed, and thanks for the comment.

  6. donnagalanti says:

    Stacy, another horrific and sad story. That poor Maggie – her entire family wiped out and only she lived as the killer didnt know she was home. I truly believe this is evil in its purest and that people who do this are missing ‘something’ in their make up the rest of us have. I wish science could locate what’s missing and we would know people’s tendencies if tested..but I guess that’s too “big brother”. I dont know how I would ever get my entire family being murdered and by one who has no remorse. This hits close to home, as I live near Lancaster an hour or so. I remember this awful tale.

    • Stacy Green says:

      Thank you. I wondered if you’d heard of it since it’s in your area. Yes, I’d agree. Something definitely isn’t right with these people “up there.” Whether it’s some sort of chemical imbalance or other brain issue, we’ll probably never know. Although there have been fascinating studies into serial killers brains via cat scans, etc.

  7. Someone once asked me if I believed in the death penalty and I said that I did not. It’s not a moral thing for me, I just think it’s a waste of tax payer dollars to keep these people locked up indefinitely, with appeal after appeal. If you are going to put them down, do it like you do with innocent animals. We can only shelter them for 3 days, then put them down, and they didn’t even do anything wrong. See how that works?

    The conversation went like this:

    “Would you believe in it if your daughter was raped and murdered?” she asked in a smug manner.

    “Would you believe in it if it was your son who did it?” I asked her.

    You could have heard a pin drop.

    • Stacy Green says:

      That’s a valid argument. The big issue for me IS the tax dollars, rather than the criminals rights. IMO, they’ve lost them. However … there have been those few cases where the death row inmate was proven innocent by DNA, so that’s another reason it mades me nervous.

      Lord, don’t get me started on the kill shelters. They’re not to blame, but it’s all so sad. And yes, in most cases, the families of the guilty are victims as well. Great reply. Thanks!

      • Wendy Finn says:

        I find one argument for keeping the death penalty and that is the opporunity for the law to offer a plea deal to murderers. It always amazes me how people can kill others but will absolutely agree to almost anything if it means that they can save their own lives. There is no regard for others but almost every one of these killers will desperately do just about anything to make sure that they can live, even if it means never getting out of prison.

      • Stacy Green says:

        I know, it’s a really hard one to swallow. The only way I can see it justified is if it’s serial murderer and he can lead to other bodies. And if all families agree. Because I can’t imagine losing a child, let alone not being able to bury them. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Julie Glover says:

    Another heart-wrenching tale. I can’t imagine being the last one left in the family and especially being the one to find your brother and parents so horrendously murdered. I don’t think anyone is destined to murder someone else. Environment and biology can play a huge part, but there is a choice in the end. This kid made an evil choice, so he deserves his punishment. Nothing will bring his victims back, so while there can be justice, it can never be made right again.

    Once again, you do a wonderful job of presenting the facts, the people involved, and asking good questions, Stacy.

    • Stacy Green says:

      I know, Julie. I don’t know how a person ever recovers from that. How could your ever feel safe again. Yes, there is a choice. But I still wonder if some are simply incapable of MAKING that choice. However, I think those are far fewer than people realize.

      Thanks so much!

    • Auth says:

      Hi Stacy,My first visit to your fantastic blog, I have had a good nose anuord’ and I shall be sure to stop by on a regular basis now that I have found you, the articles you post are so interesting and comprehensive.It just goes to show that bad things happen, even in a peaceful and peace loving community such as this.Here in the UK, I don’t think there are any areas of the country where you would find people with their doors left unlocked at any time of the day or night. We still experience our fair share of shootings and death, but on nothing like the scale or with the frequency which seems to have become the norm in the US.Clearly Alec has a severe mental illness, which must mean that he should never be allowed to return to society, so surely the humane thing for him and closure for Maggie, would be to see his life ended peacefully and humanely, unlike the treatment he meted out to Maggie’s family.Here in the UK, we no longer have a death sentence option, as it had been proved beyond reasonable doubt, on more than one occasion, that the wrong person had been hung for a crime it was discovered they did not commit.Personally, I do believe that a death sentence, used responsibly and consistently by all judges for a pre-defined set of crimes, should be re-introduced. It would send out a message that this kind of behaviour is unacceptable to society and help to thin out the numbers in our already overcrowded prisons, which we, as tax payers, are funding.

  9. Wow! You always want to believe that people like this don’t exist but they do. Chilling. I do think some people are just evil. Something in their mind or emotional development goes haywire and they are prone to hatred, evil and psychosis. It’s a shame nearly this entire family was murdered. I can’t imagine how Maggie managed to go on with her life…wow…
    Death penalty. I do see it’s usefulness. Not as a means of punishment. There is no amount of jail or punishment that will ever be “enough” for what that kid did….but I see the death penalty as a means of ensuring he never, ever gets the chance to do it again. Although sentenced to all that jail time, we’ve seen loop holes and escapes happen and someone like that does not deserve the right to ever walk the streets again – period.
    The issue I run into with the death penalty is ensuring that guilt is definite. But in this case, there was no doubt.

    • Stacy Green says:

      Yes, they do. It’s scary, especially as a parent. Sometimes I just want to stick my kid in a bubble and leave her there. I agree, somewhere in their development, whether it’s emotional or mental, just doesn’t work.

      Good point on the death penalty. There are always those risks, and of course he’ll have appeals. There’s always that chance. Agree on the guilt being definite. Sometimes innocent people are put on death row, and it’s heart breaking.

  10. Jenn says:

    Wow–I had not heard of or read this story until now–but I really feel for Maggie–that would be a horrendous nightmare come true. I think the warning signs were probably there–but some people have a great way of “masking” any sort of signs, especially the calculating kind. I do believe in the death penalty–but not sure that is always the solution. In any case…at least he has no eligibility for parole. I can’t imagine the inner strength Maggie must have had to have to get through that! WOW.

    • Stacy Green says:

      I hadn’t heard of it until I watch a show about it the other night. Very sad, isn’t it. Yes, some people – psychopaths in particular – do have a way of masking that allows them to live easily in society. And people just don’t want to think someone they know.

      Yes, Maggie has to be one tough girl. I hope she’s living a happy life somewhere.

      Thanks!

  11. A very chilling case. I do think that rehabilitation is possible for many criminals, but every once in awhile you get someone who comes along who can’t be helped, can’t be corrected. Alec Kreider seems to be this sort, and all you can do is lock them away and ensure that they can never again see the light of day. The guy is a monster.

    I was reminded reading it of a cousin of my mother, who was murdered by her daughter’s former boyfriend. He broke into the house, bludgeoned her son, killed her, raped his ex-girlfriend and held her hostage. That’s the same sort who’s simply beyond any hint of redemption.

    • Stacy Green says:

      I agree with you. Alec is one of those who just can’t be correct. It’s a waste on so many levels.

      Your story is so sad! That sounds like what happened to Jennifer Hudson’s family. It never fails to amaze me that violent crime is almost always committed by someone who knows the victims. How could a person do that, period, let alone to someone they know?

      Thanks for sharing and commenting!

  12. Yvonne says:

    Hi Stacy,

    My first visit to your fantastic blog, I have had a good ‘nose around’ and I shall be sure to stop by on a regular basis now that I have found you, the articles you post are so interesting and comprehensive.
    It just goes to show that bad things happen, even in a peaceful and peace loving community such as this.
    Here in the UK, I don’t think there are any areas of the country where you would find people with their doors left unlocked at any time of the day or night. We still experience our fair share of shootings and death, but on nothing like the scale or with the frequency which seems to have become the norm in the US.
    Clearly Alec has a severe mental illness, which must mean that he should never be allowed to return to society, so surely the humane thing for him and closure for Maggie, would be to see his life ended peacefully and humanely, unlike the treatment he meted out to Maggie’s family.
    Here in the UK, we no longer have a death sentence option, as it had been proved beyond reasonable doubt, on more than one occasion, that the wrong person had been hung for a crime it was discovered they did not commit.
    Personally, I do believe that a death sentence, used responsibly and consistently by all judges for a pre-defined set of crimes, should be re-introduced. It would send out a message that this kind of behaviour is unacceptable to society and help to thin out the numbers in our already overcrowded prisons, which we, as tax payers, are funding.

    • Stacy Green says:

      Thank you! I need to update the Thriller Thursday page so that all the posts are there. That’s something I always forget. Will do that tonight. So glad you like the articles. They’re time consuming, but they really interesting.

      The doors being unlocked surprised me. Even my parents, who live in SE Iowa where nothing happens, lock their doors at night. You just never know. And you make an interesting point – is our violent crime rate that much higher than yours? I’ve never checked that out.

      No, Alec definitely doesn’t deserve to be free, and thankfully he never will. Good point about Maggie, but you have to wonder if she would ever have real closure. So sad.

      Many of our states don’t have the death penalty, and it’s a hot button here. And like the UK, we’ve had our fair share of false convictions, and it’s a tragic think.

      Thanks so much for your comments!

  13. Catie Rhodes says:

    I had seen this case on one of those hour long crime documentaries. Isn’t it weird? I feel so sorry for Maggie. I hope her life is great right now. She deserves it.

    You know something that struck me and has on several cases–the fact that you’re a suspect if you’re not in hysterics. I’m not the type to show emotion around people. I was taught that you just don’t do that. I can get through a lot without flinching. I wait until I’m in a private place before I scream and rent my clothes. So if I were a situation that would make me a suspect. Anyway…

    I firmly believe there are people just like Alec Kreider walking around among us. And, just think, we don’t even know it.

    • Stacy Green says:

      I did, too. I think that’s where I first heard of it.

      Me, too! I’m always amazed at the cops who point out how a person didn’t grieve right, and so many psychologists have said you can’t go by that, etc. Everyone grieves differently.

      Yes, there are, and it’s terrifying. As safe as you might feel in your own home, anything can happen.

      Thanks!

  14. EllieAnn says:

    The no remorse part frightens me. Something’s broken in him, I don’t know if it will ever be fixed. If he was loose it sounds like he’d do it again.
    A chilling tale.

    • Stacy Green says:

      Me, too. It’s scary how some people just have no moral compass. Even scarier how many are walking around. And yes, I think he would.

      Thanks for stopping by:)

  15. Karen Greene says:

    I knew the Kreider family, personally. The father mad a statement once , about 6 years ago, that Alec would either be super successful or be a mass murderer. (with a chuckle). I know for a fact there were many clear and evident signs that Alec was more than a troubled youth. Such a terrible shame for everyone involved. I wonder if the website his father started is making any money for him? I would hope not.

    • Stacy Green says:

      Karen, thanks for taking the time to comment. It’s interesting to hear you say there were signs. I first heard about this case on a I.D. Discovery episode, and if I recall, they made it sound as though Alex was a shocking suspect. I wonder if that’s for drama or poor reporting. It is a shame for all involved. I hadn’t heard about the website, and I hope money isn’t being made off the crime. Thanks again.

  16. Cindy says:

    I would like to weigh in on the Death Penalty; I recently did a college paper on the Death Penalty and learned that it costs more to house a death row inmate than it does a lifer. 2 years ago, my boyfriend of 11 years was murdered in his home by a man to whom my boyfriend had extended a helping hand to. Recently released from prison for drug charges, the two were introduced by a mutual friend. My boyfriend, out of the kindness of his heart, offered to let the convict stay in a camper on the property until he could get back on his feet. 3 weeks later, when my boyfriend came home from his youngest son’s high school football game, the convict was laying in wait and shot my boyfriend in the face killing him. The convict removed his body from the house, stole his car and dumped his body out in the mountains 2 states away. Fortunately, a hunter found my boyfriends remains some 77 days later, on Christmas eve. The convict was captured in NJ and extradited back to FL. We later found out that the convict had a “hold” for a misdemeanor charge in NJ. When his sentence was up in FL, officials contacted NJ but they declined to extradite him. He was released. We are still waiting for him to go to trial. I hope that this convict gets life in prison with no chance of parole. Death is too easy. I want him to sit in a cell, 23 hours a day, 7 days a week but nothing to do but think about the wonderful Man that he snatched from the lives of his 6 siblings and 3 sons, friends, numerous nieces and nephews, and of course, the love of my life. In Alec Kreider’s case he took the 3 most important people in Maggie’s life for no reason. Other than perhaps that they were a happy family. He does not deserve to ever have the chance for parole.

    Stacy, this is my first visit to your blog. As a paralegal for 26 years and now pursuing my Bachelors in criminal justice, I find your writing very fascinating. Nice job!

    • Stacy Green says:

      Hi Cindy,

      I did know it costs more to house a death row inmate than a lifer, but it never ceases to amaze me. I guess part of it has to do with court costs.

      I’m so sorry about your boyfriend – that’s just awful. I don’t even have any real words of comfort. I would be so angry and out for revenge. How on earth did NJ decline to extradite him? Has he been charge with the murder? In some ways, you’re right. Death is too easy, especially for child killers. They suffer greatly in prison. And I do understand your position – I would feel the same way. I’m so sorry.

      I agree about Alec. He doesn’t deserve parole, and he would absolutely do it again.

      Thank you so much for sharing your story with me. I’m glad you enjoyed the blog. Good luck with your degree:)

  17. merls72 says:

    I graduated from manheim township in 1990, and it is considered a preppy well off school. The blossom hill neighborhood is a beautiful upper middle class area, I know many a former classmatewho lived or still live there. I grew up Iin Lancaster, @ this was truly a frightening and scary time in the area. A similarly chilling murder accurred in 1991, of a girl named Laurie Show. Until the Haines tragedies, this town hadnt really experienced any serious murders that I recall. Of course, since both instances, we have had the shootings that took several amish school childrens live at their schoolhouse. I cant help but wonder if there is some sociological and pysochological change slowly taking place with the people here. Was always a quiet town where neighbors looked out for each other and knew each others children…

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